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F8F-1 Kit

Trumpeter 1/32 F8F-1 Bearcat Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2008 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat Scale 1/32
Kit Number 2247 Primary Media Photo-Etch, Styrene
Pros Nice cockpit, awesome engine, great options to choose from Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $84.95

 

 

First Look

F8F-1 Kit
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F8F-1 Kit
F8F-1 Kit
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F8F-1 Kit

The Grumman F8F Bearcat was Grumman's next evolutionary step against the agile Japanese fighter theats. While their F6F Hellcat was the top scoring fighter in the Pacific, Grumman was wisely anticipating the Japanese aircraft industry's response to the Hellcat. The answer to that threat, had the war carried on longer, was the F8F. The Bearcat was roughly 20% lighter than the Hellcat, and when powered by the 2100 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R2800 Twin Wasp radial engine, the aircraft also had a better rate of climb and a higher top speed than its older brother.

First flown in August 1944, the aircraft was delivered to the Navy and the first squadron operational with the aircraft before the end of the war. By the time the aircraft arrived in theater, the war was over before it could see any combat. Nevertheless, the F8F would eventually equip 24 fighter squadrons in operational post-war service.

The Bearcat would be Grumman's last piston fighter, but it was the hottest piston fighter ever to see service in the Navy. But in those post-war years, Naval Aviation was pushing for jet power and it wouldn't be long before the Bearcat was transitioned out of front-line service. By the time the war broke out in Korea, the Bearcat was serving the reserve squadrons. The only combat this type would ever see was in service with the French Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force during the southeast Asian wars of the 1950s.

Here is an interesting new subject for the large scale modeler - the 1/32 F8F-1 Bearcat from Trumpeter. Once again, Trumpeter has taken on a subject that has been long overlooked by other kit manufacturers. Never produced in styrene before in this scale, the only previous options for a 1/32 Bearcat were the vacuformed kits from Combat Models and ID models. Let's just say there were lots of scratchbuilding opportunities with those kits. In 1/48th, there were various boxings of the Testors and Hobbycraft kits while in 1/72nd, there were Monogram and Frog toolings.

So what do we have from Trumpeter? This kit is comprised of 366 parts representing the latest in Trumpeter tooling. The kit consists of 11 parts trees molded in gray styrene, two additional trees molded in clear, and one separately packaged clear cowling. The kit is rounded out with a pair of rubber main gear tires and a fret of photo-etched parts to provide an instrument panel face (with acetate instrumenta) and seatbelt/shoulder harness.

When you look at the molding, at first blush I don't see any ejector pin marks that would be visible after assembly, though I'm sure there are a few that will require a little attention. The surface detail is finely scribed and there are rivet holes as well. Since this kit will be wearing dark colors, you'll be hard pressed to see them but they will be a good feature to use with a silver pencil to hlighlight selected panels that are frequently removed.

Among the nice features in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit with a choice of styrene or photo-etched instrument panels
  • Very detailed firewall with the first time I've seen hoses and plumbing included in the details
  • Seriously detailed R2800 engine with a detailed supercharger
  • Clear cowling so you can optionally see all of that detail
  • Separately molded lower cowling panel that can be left off to expose the engine from underneath (should you paint your cowling)
  • Separately molded access panels to see inside the turbocharger bay
  • Separately molded and positionable elevators, ailerons, and rudder
  • Separately molded and positionable landing flaps
  • Choice of folded or extended wings (with nice wingfold details)
  • Detailed wing gun bays with removable access panels
  • Detailed main landing gear struts with separate oleo fork halves
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable cowl flaps

And what do we have for external stores?

  • 2 x iron bombs
  • 4 x rockets
  • 1 x centerline drop tank

As with many of Trumpeter's releases, this kit's R2800 engine is a serious model of its own right. Like the P-47 Thunderbolts Trumpeter previously released, this kit's engine would be worth building and displaying separately together with the firewall, engine mounts, plumbing, ducting, supercharger, etc. Like the real aircraft, the model is clean and simple outside, but thank you Trumpeter for all of that detail inside. Not to mention the various options to show off all of that detail!

One small note - the kit provides the cowl flaps as separately molded parts, but do not indicate what they are nor are they shown to be installed open.

F8F

Come to think of it, you'll probably want to trim the edges of the kit cowl flaps as you'll see in the above image just how thin the full-scale flap edges are. You'll also need to fabricate your own actuators for the cowl flaps, especially if you leave off those access panels.

Remember the comment about using a silver pencil on the more used access panel 'rivet' holes? That photo above shows you how those details appear in real life.

The kit comes with a nice decal sheet that provides options for two aircraft:

  • F8F-1, BuNo 95320, VF-19, B/100, CAG Air Group 19, 1947
  • F8F-1, BuNo 95447, USNR, L/13, Naval Station Akron OH, 1951

The sheet also includes a set of maintenance stencils.

Update

I noted in the kit's color profile/painting instructions that the aircraft was finished in overall Mr.Color 365. I haven't seen this color released yet, but what they're really trying to say is that this aircraft is painted overall Glossy Sea Blue ANA 623/FS 15042. You can see the kit profile and available paints for this job here. Also note that the wheel wells in the color profiles are shown as interior green. While they may have come out of the factory in a chromate or bronze green, the aircraft in our walk around (link below) had gloss white wheel wells, so check your references for the aircraft you're building.

It is hard not to say this with many of Trumpeter's kits, but WOW! What a beautiful kit. This is also a bit of the obvious, but this kit is clearly the best Bearcat kit ever released in any scale. Trumpeter has two more versions of this aircraft coming - the F8F-1B and the F8F-2.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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